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Child Nutrition Summer Feeding Program Continues Successful Track

Meals in Motion bus

September 2019F
Ian Thompson, C.R.E.W.

[HOOVER] - The numbers are eye-opening.  More than 20% of Hoover City Schools students need some form of financial assistance with regard to school meals. 

The need for a meal does not end when the school year ends. Melinda Bonner, Child Nutrition Program Director for Hoover City Schools, knows this very well.

“Many of these children need our assistance year round. This USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) program enables us to serve them in the summer months,” Bonner said at the conclusion of the Summer 2019 Program - where the total number of lunches served at four locations in Hoover was 14,399.  That breaks down to 7,730 served in June and 6,669 in July.

According to “Break for a Plate is a federally-funded, state-administered program. It reimburses providers who serve free, healthy meals to children and teens age 18 and younger during summer months when school is not in session.

students receiving CNP meals “This is a reimbursement program based on meals served. Program sites are deemed eligible based on USDA requirements as determined by the Alabama State Department of Education.  While many receive free and reduced meals during the school year, children need healthy food all year long.”

Hoover City Schools is part of this initiative and their program is named Meals in Motion, which is in its second year, with all lunches prepared at Green Valley Elementary and distributed there, as well as by a modified school bus at the Hoover Library, Hoover Rec Center and the Park at Hoover Apartment Complex.

The bus is covered in an eye-catching wrap touting the program and has been retrofitted for the purpose.

“I approached (the HCS Transportation division) about a retired bus. All the aspects that made it an active school bus were removed, including most of the seats. It is air-conditioned as it was a special needs bus, and we added a generator, milk chiller and some other features to it,” Bonner said.

“We were able to do all this thanks to donations from Hoover Helps, Hoover Kiwanis, plus many other private and business donations.”

The 2019 Summer Feeding Program menu varied from day-to-day.  However, some aspects remained constant. The meal is always nutritious, always free to any child 18 or under, and comes in a lunch bag with an inspirational message on it, along with crossword puzzles and other fun activities.

“The only stipulation is the child must eat the meal in front of the staff at one of the locations. We even take blankets and a pop-up tent for picnics,” Bonner said.

The Hoover City Schools CNP staff has already begun planning for the 2020 Summer Feeding Program.  Be on the lookout for dates, times, and locations on the Hoover City Schools website